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Klitschko-Johnson prediction: Look for Vitali’s face to get mangled

vit43232By Dave Lahr: With the bout between World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko (38-2, 37 KO’s) and challenger Kevin Johnson (22-0-1, 9 KO’s) at the PostFinance Arena, in Berne, Switzerland, I think we’re about to see the 38-year-old Vitali get old tonight and lose. It’s bound to happen sooner or later, because Vitali is starting to look old and gray on top.

But I think the 30-year-old Johnson has the physical tools and youth to make Vitali look every bit of his age and older. The problem in this fight is that Johnson is a much better boxer than any fighter that Vitali has ever faced in his career with the exception of Lennox Lewis, of course. As boxing fans already know, Lewis made mincemeat of Klitschko’s face with his jab and uppercuts, nearly tearing Vitali’s face apart.

The cuts that Klitschko sustained in the Lewis fight were so bad that it required almost a 100 stitches to close the wounds around Vitali’s eyes and lips. Johnson has a lot of the same tools that Lewis has – a powerful long jab, a hard left hook and a mean uppercut. Additionally, Johnson has the longer reach than Vitali. This is an important factor that many boxing fans and experts seem to be overlooking. Since the fight with Lewis in 2003, Klitschko hasn’t faced a fighter with a longer reach than him.

Klitschko has been lucky to have faced entirely shorter fighters with less power and a much shorter reach. Tonight, Vitali will be facing a fighter that has a much better jab than him, is younger and has a better left hook. I really don’t see Klitschko winning this fight, and it’s going to be a huge shock for boxing fans when he losses. This is perhaps why I was slightly amused when I saw how cocky Vitali looked in his pre-fight weigh-in with Johnson.

Vitali seems to be acting as if this fight is in the bag. That may be a bluff on his part to try and psych Johnson out mentally or Vitali might be fool enough to really believe that he’s better than Johnson. Either way, it spells trouble for Klitschko. I think he doesn’t have the tools to beat Johnson at this point in his career. Johnson is beatable, there’s no doubt about it, but it will take youth and stamina to beat him.

Vitali doesn’t have either of those factors going for him in this fight. If Vitali bum rushes Johnson and unloads everything but the kitchen sink, then I think Vitali will beat him. However, if Klitschko fights as he always has since making his comeback last year after four years out of boxing, by fighting on the outside with his hands down by his sides, then he’ll lose to Johnson.

Klitschko doesn’t have a chance if he stays on the outside against the long armed Johnson. If Klitschko is smart enough to adapt early on to counteract Johnson’s jabs by going right after him, he can win this fight. I think Klitschko will. He’ll be too cocky and think he can bombard Johnson from long range and will end up getting what Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali’s brother, calls “pizza face.”

Prediction: Johnson by 12 round decision. Look for Vitali’s face to end up looking like hamburger.

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